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Cheap Eats in Hawaii

Saving Money But Eating Well in Hawaii


In Part 2 of this series I explained how staying at a condo hotel can save you considerable money on your food costs in Hawaii.

There are other ways that you can save some money eating. You don't need to go to a fancy restaurant to eat well in Hawaii. In fact, some of the best food is found at some of the more hole-in-the-wall places.

Hole-in-the-Wall Delights

Let me give you an example. When I'm on Maui, I often stay at the Paki Maui Resort - a condo hotel just north of Ka'anapali in West Maui. Right across the street is a place called the Honokowai Okazuya & Deli.

For about $10 a person, you can get a great dinner with a fresh cooked entree, fresh vegetables and rice or macaroni salad. Entrees include such things as Chicken Katzu, Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Teriyaki Steak and Mahi Mahi. As they say in Hawaii the food is "ono" - delicious. It is packed in a Styrofoam container with plastic fork and knife.

The Honokowai Okazuya & Deli is not the exception, but the rule. There are many of these small, often family run, places throughout the islands.

If you saw the Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode filmed in Hawaii, you'll remember seeing a place called Ono Hawaiian Foods at 726 Kipahulu Ave. in Honolulu. It's located near the Ala Wai Golf Course that borders Waikiki.

One is a great place to go if you want to sample some authentic Hawaiian foods without the expense of attending a luau. You can order items ala carte or buy one of the "Special Plates" which cost $12 and include a choice of kalua pig, chicken long rice, or laulau and includes servings of pipikaula (Hawaiian beef jerky), lomi salmon, haupia and rice (one size only) or poi (small).

The Plate Lunch

While we're discussing local food, you'll see the term "plate lunch" almost everywhere in the islands. As defined by Robert and Cindy Carpenter in their excellent Hawaii Restaurant Guide Series a plate lunch is "an island style blue plate special with a main entree such as teriyaki beef or chicken, two scoops of white rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad." The cost is usually around $10 and it's definitely a meal.

Check out the Carpenter's newest book Hawaii Budget Restaurants & Dining which was published in 2011.

Kahuku Shrimp Trucks

If you're own O'ahu and driving around the islands, be sure to plan to have lunch at one of the several shrimp trucks around Kahuku on O'ahu's North Shore. The prices range from about $10-12 per plate and include about a dozen of the freshest shrimp you'll ever eat plus two scoops of rice.

Hawaii Food Tours

A great way to sample some of the smaller, less well-known O'ahu restaurants is to take a tour where you'll stop and eat at four or five of them at lunchtime.

Former Honolulu Advertiser's food critic Matthew Gray's Hawaii Food Tours operates a daily Hole-In-The-Wall Tour which includes a walking tour of Honolulu's wonderful Chinatown.

You get all the benefits of a four-hour guided tour of Honolulu plus enough food to fill you for the rest of the day and the cost is less than $100 per person. Most importantly, you'll learn about all of the great foods that you'll find in Hawaii and how to find them.

Hawaii Food Tours has been seen on TV's The Food Network and reviewed by MSNBC which called them "one of the best food experiences in the world." You can read my review of Hawaii Food Tours. Hawaii Food Tours was selected as Favorite Hawaii Activity Company in the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards.

There are places like you'll see with Hawaii Food Tours all over the Hawaiian islands. You can easily get by with spending less than $15 a person for a great lunch or dinner. Compare that to the $60-$80 per person you'll spend at a hotel restaurant. The money ads up quickly.

Some Food is as Simple as ABC

Another name to keep in mind in Hawaii is ABC, specifically the ABC Stores. People love to make fun of them, mostly because they're omnipresent throughout O'ahu - on almost every corner and in ever major resort. Their prices, however, are not something to laugh at. They carry a huge selection of snack foods, breakfast items and drinks. The ABC Store is where I buy most of my breakfasts on O'ahu.

Another chain which offers a similarly excellent choice of snacks, beverages, and groceries are the Whalers General Stores. You'll find them mostly in the resort areas on the outer islands.

Just keep in mind; you don't have to spend a lot of money to eat well in Hawaii. The choice is totally up to you.

Part 8 - Free in Hawaii

More Articles in this Series

Part 1 - Free Nights and More at Hawaii Hotels and Resorts for the Fall and Winter of 2009-2010

Part 2 - Condo Hotels Offer Hawaii Visitors Affordable Alternatives

Part 4 - Saving Money on Liquor and Other Liquid Refreshments in Hawaii

Part 5 - Renting a Car in Hawaii

Part 6 - Using Your Frequent-flier Miles for Travel to Hawaii

Part 7 - Booking Your Activities Ahead Can Save Lots of Money

Part 8 - Free in Hawaii

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